The Mexican War has faded from our national memory, but it was a struggle of enormous significance. It was the first U.S. war waged on foreign soil, and it nearly doubled the size of our nation. At this fascinating juncture of American history, a group of young men came together to fight as friends - only, years later, to fight again as enemies.
Full of dramatic battles, daring rescues, secret missions, soaring triumphs, and tragic losses, The Training Ground is history at its finest.
©2008 Martin Dugard; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Not a detailed history of the war, but a researched element of the conflict. For Civil War buffs, if you haven't read about the details of this conflict, you will miss the reason why your favorite General (blue or gray) is the way they were. The author keeps you focused on the reason for the story, not a diatribe on how the war was unjust. It will leave you wondering how this "band of brothers" could ever fight each other. Maybe there was something to 1860's state loyalty. Manifest Destiny has lost its meaning to modern scholars, but the future soldiers for and against slavery were trained for the horrific clash of the Civil War. The American character had been established 150 years before, but it was clearly demonstrated during the short 18 months war as told by the author. Even our enemies today would do well to study this American way of fighting before starting any future conflicts against the US.
The author would do well to write a definitive account of the Battle of Monterrey and/or Mexico City. Not one about the Campaigns, these have been done. No revisionism typical of modern histories, but recognizing the validity of Manifest Destiny of 1846. The bravery of both the American and Mexican soldiers deserve any detailed accounting of the war.
The title pretty much sums up the authors main thesis - that the Mexican War was unique in both molding the characters of many notable figures of the Civil War, as well as strengthening the bonds they'd already formed through their tenure at West Point.
His coverage of the war itself sometimes takes a back seat to the "characterizations" of Grant, Lee, Jefferson Davis and George Meade, but is still compelling - especially from a political perspective. However, there were some gaffes in offhanded comments about the War of 1812 and the Civil War. For example, characterizing Pickett's Charge as a "one of the great *cavalry* charges of the Civil War" left one scratching their head - especially given that George Pickett was one of figures highlighted (albeit only briefly).
Still, the book is worth the effort, if only to shed some light on an often-ignored chapter of American history.
Thne author did a great job of following the life of Lee. Grant Davis and Longstreet. The book also covers the politics of Polk and the leadership of Taylor and Scott. Anyone how is interested in the Civil War will love this book
This book, while entertaining, is pretty ridiculously biased. I've read enough about this time in history to repeatedly be frustrated by the author when he leaves out key information in order to frame the story to meet his opinion. I wouldn't say not to read this book, but understand you're only getting part of the story. Additionally it's hard to say that the book is pro-Mexican since while the author attempts to make the Mexican people sympatric he does very little outside of generalizing to make his points. Also the author repeated quotes Grant on the war, who, in case you didn't know, was anti-Mexican war. It would be like getting your Iraq war history from Nancy Pelosi -- well not that bad but just saying Grant was far from unbiased and wanted to use the war to politically hurt the Democrats so you always have to take everything he says with a grain of salt and understand it's opinion, not always fact. The author isn't blatantly anti-American on the conflict, certainly no more than Grant, but he just leaves out so many things, so many things.
As for how the author ties in Grant, Lee, Sherman, etc he generally does a pretty good job but it's pretty light reading -- very readable however and also the length of this book wouldn't allow for a tremendous amount of depth even if it's available.
The reader does a pretty good job -- I've heard him before on other books and it's the same here. I've heard a few better but I've heard a ton that are worse, so I'd put him in a solid 4-star category.
So in closing I would only say read more on this subject and don't rely on this to be your sole source of information on the conflict or the time period.
Overall I enjoyed the book very much. That being said it was a bit short of what I expected. Most of the material was on Grant, with much less on Sherman, Lee and Davis. The author did provide alot of good material on the Mexican war, appreciated for those of us who don't know alot about it. Overall I would recommend the book.
I think there's a reason the Mexican War isn't more talked about; it wasn't that interesting!
Dugard is a great researcher and writer but he should have decided to either write about one or two of the important generals or just written about the war.
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